Upbeat mood at Magazines Ireland Publishing 360

Two years ago, I attended my first Magazines Ireland Publishing 360 event. It was a room full of barely suppressed anxiety as publishers listened to presentations by experts waxing lyrical about the death of print magazines and the rise of digital magazines.

What a difference 730 days can make.

This past Wednesday, I sat in the same auditorium and listened to different experts say that not only had digital magazines failed to kill their print counterparts, they had failed to be anything other than a herd of white elephants.

In spite of this, there was a heavy digital focus at the event. Rhona Murphy of The Daily Beast and Adrian Acosta of TheJournal.ie spoke of having digital only mediums, although both of these are more focused on news rather than competing directly with magazines. They spoke of having the news in bite size pieces that people could link to on Facebook and Twitter, of having the right amount of advertising on a website so the reader doesn’t get annoyed. Adrian Acosta then gave a very direct answer when asked if TheJournal.ie was profitable. “No”. So, umm, good luck with that. At least they’re on track, he said later.

Stephan Quinn of Vogue spoke of how Vogue is using a combination of print and digital to increase overall circulation and revenue. For him, it isn’t about print versus digital; it’s about digital complimenting print. The website focuses on the daily aspect of the fashion industry, while Vogue magazine still has the title as the monthly fashion bible with its expensive print ads and double-page spreads of the latest fashion on display on the Paris, London and New York catwalks.

The lifetime achievement award was presented to Norah Casey, someone else who seems determined to pack every waking moment with a passion for work. She was very elegant in her acceptance speech and spoke of her love for the printed magazine, saying to the assembled print publishers that they are still lucky people are prepared to put money on a counter and buy a beautiful magazine. Digital, she continued, may be for other things such as newspapers (and here everyone bowed their heads and said a silent prayer) but it is not for magazines.

And you know what; I have to agree with her.

Digital magazines have not taken off in the manner the experts predicted they would when the Apple iPad was launched. Consumers have not (completely) abandoned the newsstand for their tablet computers. There are reasons for this. Size being an interesting one; squashing an A4 size magazine down to the A5 screen of a tablet (don’t even mention the screen size of a phone). Having to pinch and zoom to read an article. The higher value placed on printed advertising versus advertising in digital.

But ask a publisher why digital magazines have not taken off and they will use a single word; “experience”. For them and, as it turns out, for their readers, it’s about the experience of reading a magazine. The feel of the glossy paper, the smell of the ink, the large double-page spreads. Sitting with a cup of coffee and reading your favourite fashion bible. This is the experience they talk of.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. So, some months ago we started developing the “dynamic magazine” version of FolioFourOne. It’s a cross between a magazine and a blog. It’s intended to bring to digital the beautiful medium that Norah Casey spoke of combined with the craving for real time information that today’s Internet culture demands.

We’re currently in closed alpha testing right now and are intending to roll it out later this year. It’s something new for publishers, with the focus not on cannibalising print with digital, but for the two to complement each other, increasing circulation and revenue. It won’t use the standard web-based advertisement; that tiny box off to the side that everyone ignores anyway. Instead the adverts will be more like their printed counterparts with our In-Magazine Retailing™ functionality adding that “See it. Want it. Buy it.” capability to both adverts and product editorials.

The biggest mistake made in the last few years was believing that digital magazines could replace print magazines. In reality, it has been about finding the bridge between the two. FolioFourOne is that bridge. We hope you can join us.

For more information on our dynamic magazine, contact us using the contact form. We’d love to hear from you.

Investments, offices and logos. Oh my!

Hmm, it’s been a while. A lot has happened. A lot!

First off, we re-launched FolioFourOne in October of 2013, with a new main site and a new store. We’ve signed on a number of large Irish publishers and substantially increased our revenue.

Also at the end of 2013, Enterprise Ireland made an investment in the company. This was huge for us. It meant we could take some time to focus on a new aspect of our product offering that our customers have been asking for; namely to go beyond digital replicas. What we’ve really discovered over the last number of months is that publishers hate them. They see replicas as a necessary evil. While we offer publishers something more through In-Magazine Retailing, it’s still not enough. We’re working on the next phase. And for some publishers, we just can’t get there fast enough.

We’ve recently opened a sales office in Dublin, just off Baggot Street. Our Director of Sales will be based there along with our Marketing Associate (as soon as we find someone suitable!).

The Development Group is still based in the Nexus Innovation Centre at the University of Limerick, which makes sense given the resources on our doorstep here.

Finally, we revamped our logo. It was receiving a lot of negative feedback for one reason or another and we wanted to update it. I’m a big fan of 99 Designs and so I added the project there. Within a week, we had 65 designers submit almost 450 designs. A phenomenal number. Of course we had to review them all and provide feedback. There was a lot of internal discussion before the final design was chosen. The new design is fresh, simple and very elegant. Of course, now we need to update all the business cards, headed paper, social media logos, etc. , but there you go.

We’re also looking at a new e-commerce platform that will tie directly into, not only FolioFourOne, but other publishing platforms, blogs, social media sites, advertisements, etc. There’ll be more on this in the coming months. We’re very excited about it here. I’ll even admit to getting some goose bumps during the initial discussions about it.

So the future has an extremely positive outlook for us. I hope you’ll join us along the way.

Redesigning the FolioFourOne website

FolioFourOne

After recently changing the FolioFourOne logo, we took another step to improve the FolioFourOne site and set about redesigning the landing page. What initially started off as a simple redesign became, well, more.

As we mapped out the redesign on one of the whiteboards, it became obvious that a simple single page redesign would not be enough. Additional pages, information and media elements were needed. The store would remain more or less the same, but everything else would undergo a significant redesign.

Since this was such a big change, we decided to take the existing FolioFourOne site offline. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly and followed a number of discussions with the development and marketing teams.

Existing customers will not be affected, since all embedded links will remain the same, but new customers will have to wait a few weeks before being able to sign up.

I hope you bear with us. The website will be re-launched soon, with more functionality and a much improved interface. If you want to be kept updated on changes, head over to the FolioFourOne website and enter your email address to be added to the mailing list. We’ll keep you updated as to progress and let you know as soon as the new website is operational.

FolioFourOne goes blue.

FolioFourOne

So, FolioFourOne has gone blue. The logo colour that is. For various reasons, we went ahead and changed from the orange to a deep blue. It now matches with the theme that we use with our framework (from the last blog post. Remember?!). We also decided to add in another page into the icon. Originally the icon had three pages, one for each word in FolioFourOne. But every time we did a presentation, people would ask why there were only three pages and not four (as in FolioFourOne). So we’d have to explain about the relationship to the name. It was something minor, but actually started an interesting discussion in the office. We were changing the colour anyway, so why not change the page count. A quick chat with our graphic designer and BOOM! four pages in blue. We’re really happy with the result. The hard part, of course, is updating the websites, social media accounts and presentations. But at least we won’t have to explain about why there are only three pages in the icon.

FolioFourOne gets a major upgrade

Hmm. I’m not blogging enough, so time for a blog about our new product release.

FolioFourOne got a major upgrade this week. We’re constantly seeking new ways to improve the web-app so that it’s easier to use across any device. As a result, we’ve been looking at a number of frameworks that work across both the desktop and mobile devices. It came down to Sencha Touch and jQueryMobile.

Aaaannnndddd the winner is…. jQueryMobile.

A lot of software developers hate on jQuery and its various additions such as jQueryUI and jQueryMobile. But we’re big fans of it here. jQuery, and jQueryMobile specifically, provides simple solutions to various web based issues. Why spend time coding for an overlay and popup dialog when you can simply copy and paste a couple of lines from the jQuery demo page and you’re done? And before anyone complains about the size of the files needed for jQueryMobile, they’re actually quite small. Especially when you’re dealing with digital magazines which can be a couple of hundred times larger than a few minified text files. Just saying.

We’ve also greatly improved how FolioFourOne embeds into another website. One thing that publishers keep telling us is that they want to keep their readers on their website, which isn’t possible if that reader goes off to an app. FolioFourOne helps publishers keep their readers on their website using their products. Apps may be nice, but customer retention is better.

Stay tuned for more improvements in the coming weeks.

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